NewsClick: Indian police raid news site critical of Modi government, fueling fears for press freedom


New Delhi police raided the homes of prominent journalists linked to a leftist news organization known for its scrutiny of the Indian government, in a move that media groups characterized as the latest attack on press freedom.

Forty-six people have been questioned and digital devices and documents have been seized for examination, Delhi Police said in a brief statement following Tuesday’s raid.

Those questioned include journalists, editors and contributors linked to NewsClick, an independent news website known for being fiercely critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.

Police said they had arrested the outlet’s editor, Prabir Purkayastha, and a colleague, Amit Chakravarty, and that an investigation was underway in connection with India’s Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, or UAPA, a anti-terrorism law that critics describe as “draconian.” ”and makes it almost impossible to receive bail.

Some of those questioned reported the raids on Twitter, now known as X, while they were taking place.

in a last mail Before her devices were taken away, writer and activist Bhasha Singh wrote: “Finally the last tweet from this phone. “Delhi Police confiscated (sic) my phone.”

At 8:05 local time, journalist Abhisar Sharma saying The Delhi Police was at his house and was about to take away his devices. Hours later, he aggregate: “After a day-long interrogation in the special cell in Delhi, I am back home. Each and every question raised will be answered. Nothing left to fear. And I will continue to question people in power and, in particular, those who fear simple questions.”

The raids have shaken and angered India’s independent media, who say Modi and his right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are strengthening their control over press freedom.

CNN has contacted the BJP for comment.

At an event in Odisha on Tuesday, Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur said he did not need to justify the police action.

“If someone has done something wrong, the agencies are free to carry out investigations against them according to established guidelines,” he said.

India, with a population of 1.4 billion people, is the world’s largest democracy and one of the world’s largest media markets.

But the Modi administration He has repeatedly been accused of intimidating the press, stifling free speech and censoring independent news organizations.

Indian digital news foundation Digipub said it was “deeply concerned” about the raids.

“This has taken the government’s pattern of arbitrary and intimidating behavior to another level,” he said. saying in a sentence. “India has been on a downward spiral on press freedom and other rankings on civil liberties and human rights, and the Indian government’s war on the media is a stain on the world’s largest democracy.”

The Editors’ Guild of India saying He worried that the raids were “yet another attempt to muzzle the media,” while urging the government to follow “due process” and “not create a general atmosphere of intimidation under the shadow of draconian laws.”

The Press Club of India saying He expressed “solidarity with journalists and demands that the government provide details.”

Tuesday’s crackdown comes eight months after Indian tax authorities raided BBC offices in New Delhi and Mumbai after it aired a documentary criticizing Modi’s role in the deadly 2002 riots.

The offices of other independent media outlets have been raided in the past, and international nonprofit human rights group Amnesty halted operations in 2020 after the Indian government “completely frozen” its bank accounts.

India fell 11 places to 161st out of 180 nations in this year’s World Press Freedom Index, published by Reporters Without Borders, and now ranks between Laos and Djibouti.

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